In 2018, Arun Kumar, a cis male, and Srija, a trans woman, married in Hindu tradition at Sri Sankara Rameswaram temple. However, they had to fight for a long time to get their marriage registered. They ultimately received their marriage certificate in 2019 after months of legal proceedings. Thirumathi Nangai is Shiva Krish’s film that takes us inside Srija’s home and gives us a glimpse into her and her family’s lives.
Shiva Krish is driven by the willpower to tell stories that are socially relevant. Every project he works on tries to find human emotion at its core. He also brings a wealth of creative directorial and project management experience, having worked on projects of all sizes, from indie shorts to the Amazon Prime series. Chithra, the film’s creative producer, is a filmmaker residing in New York with a master’s degree in film production from the University of Texas at Austin. Her international exposure will guide Thirumathi Nangai toward reaching a worldwide audience.
Starting his career as an assistant director, beginning with small projects, the floods in Chennai in 2015 was when he got involved in activism, societal causes, and making documentary films. “It affected and forced me to get into rescue works – that’s when it changed my perspective about my career and activism,” he said. The floods which wrecked the city made him work with people from various communities and shift to documentary films.
Shiva Krish spoke to SheThePeople about his documentary that is currently being filmed which is based on the lived realities of a trans woman from Thoothukudi.
Shiva depicts the sensitive reality of a transwoman and her mother through these moments. Srija aspires to be like the girl next door, living a normal life in a small Indian town. It also popularises the concept of an accepting and supportive parent, and it is hopes that many parents would find their voices in Valli to support their LGBTQIA+ children.
Shiva gathered information through newspapers, probing deeper to make this documentary about Srija, not an indie one but a palatable documentary which must reach more to sensitise the masses. His personal savings and friends’ support put into the work had funded it.
“In India, the acceptance for a non-binary marriage for the first time happening legally drove me to bring it to light and celebrate the queer love as much as possible,” he says. Finding Srija and her partner’s contact details took him time since he lived in Chennai and did not know anyone from Thoothukudi. “I got in touch with a local news reporter and that’s how I reached out to them.”
The call went on for a while. The attention was overwhelming for people from small townships because of the sensational media attention during their marriage in 2018, Shiva notes. “It took me many calls with them to make them understand that it will be different from hard news.” In the film’s production part, since he had a background of coming from fiction, he is confident that he broke the common assumption of documentaries being boring. He adds, “We are about to wrap up the film’s edit. The approach to our edit is that we tell all the necessary messages that convey the moral point as well as make it palatable. It is a fairly new process for me as I have changed the path and hope to cater to the audience in ways that are palatable, informative and politically correct.”
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Thirumathi Nangai was a finalist for the Tasveer Film Fund Award documentary grant (2021). Shiva Krish was an associate director on the film Borderlands, which was one of only 20 films from around the world to be selected for the coveted Marche du Film – Festival de Cannes (2020). Shiva krish worked as an associate director on Amazon Prime’s first Indian documentary series, Harmony, which starred Oscar winner A.R. Rahman. At the ‘Los Angeles Cinefest,’ his short documentary film Pink Money was recognised as a Semi-Finalist (2018). In his short documentary film Inward, Shiva Krish was featured in The Hindu for raising awareness about Schizophrenia.